Harbhajan Singh stars in Punjab win over Maharashtra

Harbhajan Singh picked up three wickets for 35 runs and then struck 79 off 94 balls to help Punjab win the match with 10 balls to spare AFP

New Delhi: Mar 5, 2012

Skipper Harbhajan Singh led from the front with a remarkable all-round effort to take Punjab to the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy after a thrilling two-wicket win over Maharashtra on Monday.

Harbhajan picked up three wickets for 35 runs to restrict Maharashtra to 186 for nine in 50 overs and then struck 79 off 94 balls to help Punjab win the match with 10 balls to spare after being reduced to 27 for five at one stage.

Harbhajan struck seven fours and two sixes and was involved in an 86-run stand for the seventh wicket with Taruwar Kohli (44 off 77 balls; 4×4).

Harbhajan then added 36 runs for the ninth wicket with Manpreet Gony.

The feisty offie finished the job in style, lofting leg-spinner Chirag Khurana for a massive six over long-on.

Chasing 187 for victory, Punjab were off to a disastrous start as they lost their top five batsmen in less than 10 overs.

Harbhajan walked in after Khurana made it 69 for six by sending back left-handed all-rounder Bipul Sharma in the 21st over.

Mixing caution with the occasional burst of aggression, Harbhajan, along with Kohli, did the rebuilding job to keep Punjab in the hunt.

There was a scare for Punjab after they lost two quick wickets in the form of Kohli and Rahul Sharma, but Harbhajan ensured that his side ended winners at Palam A Ground here.

Batting first, Maharashtra’s Kedar Jadhav (41) and Nikhil Paradkar (42) were the main contributors as they posted 186 on a slow pitch.

While Harbhajan stood out with his three wickets, leg-spinner Sharma was the next best bowler with figures of two for 45.

For Maharashtra, left-arm medium pacer Mohsin Sayyed (3/41) was the most successful bowler while Anupam Sanklecha took two wickets for 21 runs.(PTI)